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104?                                       VERDICT OX IXDIA

This is a gloomy picture, but it is not an ungenerous one, and
though it is painted by an Englishman it is not as dark as that
which is painted by some Indians themselves, who seem to have
lost all hope of advancement.
I myself kare hope, very great hope, and in spite of all that
has gone before I believe the Indian screen may have a brilliant
future. Why ?
There are many reasons. Three will suffice.
TJie first may sound trivial but is actually important. Until
recently all Indian films were of quite intolerable length ; fifteen
thousand feet was nothing out of the common. The audience de-
manded it. So intent were they on getting their money's worth
that they would sit in silence through a whole list of credits, un-
moved by the names of the stars, the authors, the directors, only
to burst into wild applause when the length of the film was flashed
across the screen. 15,487 feet. Whoopee ! That meant the film
must be good !
The war has put a stop to these inordinate longueurs ; owing to
shortage of celluloid Government has issued an order that no film
may be more than 11,000 feet. And though the audience chafes,
and mutters that this is yet another example of the brutality of
the British Raj, the producer  and the intelligent filmgoer 
heaves a sigh of relief.
That is a negative reason for hope ; it shows that Indian films
can get into step with modern ideas, even if it takes a war to
bring this miracle about.
The other two reasons are more positive. The first concerns tlic
Indian actors themselves. They form the true riches of the Indian
screen. They have a born, sense of drama ; it is as natural for them
to act as for thrushes to sing. We mentioned above that a girl
may be given a star role a few days after her first screen test, and
that nobody sees anything odd in it- Well, there isn't anything
odd in, it. She is a star and  though it sounds incredible  she
has very little to learn.
Unlike hi>> Western prototype, the Indian producer has to be
constantly curbing hi^ actors and actresses ; their features arc so